What were some of the gains that African Americans made during the period of Post- Civil War Reconstruction? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The most demonstrative gain during Reconstruction was the abolition of slavery.  For African- Americans this gain was significant. African- Americans would no longer be subjugated by White Americans.  This was a major gain.  African- Americans no longer had to endure the physical and emotional abuses that slavery featured.  Being chained, whipped, beaten, and raped without any recourse are all significant gains.  Along these lines, another gain was that African- Americans could begin the process of reestablishing their families and connections that were severed during slavery.  Many families brought over in slavery were separated, shipped to different plantations in order to weaken slave resolve.  One gain for African- Americans was the ability to strengthen these bonds.  

Another gain was the ability to explore freedom.  For African- Americans who were former slaves, the abolition of slavery in Reconstruction enabled them to fully explore freedom.  This was a condition that they were not able to experience before.  In the case of many African- Americans, this meant getting out of the South:  "If I stay here I'll never know I'm free."  The experience of freedom can be seen as a gain for African- Americans.  While freedom was uncertain and much can be made of how this confusion represented a challenge, being free was a better condition than being property of another.  There  was a level of humanity that African- Americans experienced and a dignity that was gained from being free.